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Clarity brings safe water for all – a Kohler “innovation for good” initiative

Clarity brings safe water for all – a Kohler “innovation for good” initiative

It is hard to believe that more than 2 billion people have no access to safe water* in our privileged environments – where food, power and water are everyday staples.  It was this fact that inspired Kohler to develop CLARITY, a simple, affordable filtration system that can provide safe drinking water for those living in remote areas with no access to clean water.

Kohler Clarity – the safe water filtration system

CLARITY is yet another step in the company’s ongoing commitment to global health and sustainability.  A table-top ceramic filtration system, CLARITY was developed by Kohler in partnership with World Vision, iDE and Water Mission.  It can produce 40 litres of safe drinking water a day – enough for a small family.

The cornerstones of the design are that it be simple to use and maintain, inexpensive to acquire and run and easy to transport in some of the most remote and rugged terrains in the world.

CLARITY, a ceramic filtration system, removes more than 99 per cent of bacteria and protozoa from 11 litres of water every two hours.

Contaminated or dirty water is placed in the reservoir at the top of the unit which then uses gravity to filter down to the storage reservoir below.  The clean water can be kept safely in this reservoir and accessed by tap.

The filter cartridge contains some silver, for its antimicrobial properties, and is cleaned simply by rubbing gently with sandpaper to remove any sediment build-up.  Each cartridge will filter up to 5000 litres of water before replacement is required.

Enormous thought has been put into the environments and communities in which CLARITY will be used – the lid, for example, is embossed with pictographic instructions in consideration of those who are illiterate.

Transport can also be an expensive and difficult process in more remote areas – so both the CLARITY unit and its packaging has been designed to be as lightweight as possible.  One truckload of CLARITY filtration systems will contain 3600 units – enough for about 14, 400 people.

The easy to assemble and use CLARITY filtration unit stands about 60cms tall and weighs just 2.5 kg – and meets WHO standards for safe drinking water.

The CLARITY has already been used in disaster relief efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.  Given that statistics suggest the incidence of water-borne illnesses can be reduced by 45 per cent through safe drinking water, and safe storage, the CLARITY is a life-changing development.

The Kohler CLARITY project has been a truly multicultural affair having been designed by a Kohler team in the UK, engineered by a Kohler team in India and produced in Kohler’s US factory.

At a local level, Kohler holds permanent stocks of the CLARITY in its Kohler NZ warehouse in preparation for a rapid response should there be further disasters in its regional South Pacific islands.

Go to for more details.

Other sustainability projects: Reinvent the Toilet Challenge – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Kohler has had an ongoing passion and commitment to utilise its high-end design and technology skills to make change for ALL, especially those who have less.  Having joined the Bill Gates Foundation, Kohler partnered with the California Institute of Technology in 2012 to develop a photo-voltaic toilet to provide a sustainable sanitation option to the 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have safe sanitation.


*  WHO 7/2/2018

The KOHLER Waste Lab … turning nothing into something

 KOHLER Waste Lab

Waste is only waste if we define it that way. What if ‘waste’ didn’t exist?  The way we live now, we produce almost more waste than products. Imagine turning our waste into something else!

As Kohler Stewards, believing in better, we are charged to write the next chapter. To wonder what’s next. And to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations.

KOHLER Waste Lab

Kohler Co. Headquarters in Kohler, Wisconsin, USA

We committed to NetZero by 2035 in terms of greenhouse emissions and solid waste going to landfills. To fulfil this promise of reducing and eliminating them, we constantly think of new ways to approach this challenge. As a large manufacturer, solid waste is a byproduct of factory processes and brings with it a mountain of worry.

The KOHLER Waste Lab

Born out of our Kohler employee initiative Innovation for Good, the idea of looking at industrial waste in a new way and as raw material first emerged in October 2013. The team developed solutions to keep clean manufacturing waste out of landfills, make it valuable again and turn it into innovative products.

Since then, Theresa Millard, an artist and bio-mimicry expert, and her team have experimented and tested ways of transforming how people look at waste. Millard knows that with a craftsman’s eye and the understanding of composition and characteristics, waste can be re-purposed as raw material for new, precious products that bring joy and a good feeling to the customers.

KOHLER Waste Lab

Artist and bio-mimicry expert Theresa Millard who has joined Kohler to help drive the success of the Waste Lab.

As a result, the Kohler Waste Lab was created and its team is charged with finding environmentally sustainable solutions and contributing to the circular economy by imitating nature and recycling, reusing and re-purposing factory byproducts.

The Waste Lab – located in a glass production building in a disused lab facility – is an innovative, cross-discipline team of engineers, industrial designers, waste specialists and artists who create something new, valuable and worthwhile with potential landfill material and with equipment that is no longer in use in the production plants.

We committed to NetZero by 2035 in terms of greenhouse emissions and solid waste going to landfills. To fulfil this promise of reducing and eliminating them, we constantly think of new ways to approach this challenge. As a large manufacturer, solid waste is a byproduct of factory processes and brings with it a mountain of worry.

Some of the byproducts we currently create include foundry dust, spent sand, green cull from the pottery and enamel powder and already our Waste Lab teams have magically transformed this ‘waste’ into decorative kitchen and bathroom tiles for our US tile company Ann Sacks.

KOHLER Waste Lab

Foundry dust and sand, green cull and enamel powder make kitchen and bathroom tiles!

And this is just the beginning …

For more information, visit us at:


Kohler Clarity water filtration system brings safe water to those in need…

Kohler Clarity water filtration system brings safe water to those in need…

According to UNICEF, in 2015, 1.8 billion people were using unsafe drinking water.

What the world needs is a solution to improve the water quality and consequently the lives that are affected by it. Kohler Associates worked together to figure out how to help build better lives and how to reduce the struggle to find clean water. The project resulted in the development of a ceramic water filtration system called Kohler Clarity.

Kohler Clarity

Designed by a Kohler team in the UK, engineered by a Kohler team in India and produced in a Kohler factory in the US, this truly trans-global project created a water filter that meets exceptionally high standards of quality and design. The filtration system, for example, is highly effective yet incredibly simple to use and maintain.

Kohler Clarity is an innovative ceramic water filtration system designed to offer 40 litres of safe water per day without using electricity. Each Kohler Clarity filters out more than 99% of bacteria and protozoa, providing up to 40 litres of safe water each day – enough clean drinking water for a family of four. Given the incidence of water-borne illnesses can be reduced by 45 per cent through safe drinking water – and safe storage – the Kohler Clarity is a life-changing development.

Kohler Clarity

Kohler Clarity Filter Cartridge

The design of the Kohler Clarity meets World Health Organisation water quality standards. The appliance filters up to two litres of water an hour and has a total capacity of 23 litres – 11 litres of dirty water and 12 litres of clean water with safe storage.

Each filter can clean up to 5000 litres of water – and replacement filters are very low cost and readily available.

Even the packaging has been designed to fit more product into a standard box and therefore significantly reduce transport costs.

The Kohler Clarity has already helped countless numbers of people in developing countries.

Kohler Clarity

Click below to view some of the ways we have helped those in need:

  • Haiti – support following Hurricane Matthew
  • Africa – in collaboration with World Vision
  • Louisiana – supporting flood victims

Visit for more details on this life-changing project.

World Toilet Day – An interview with Jack Sim AKA Mr Toilet

World Toilet Day – An interview with Jack Sim AKA Mr Toilet

Recently we met up with Jack Sim aka Mr. Toilet, founder of the World Toilet Organization. Jack was kind enough to share with us what he is up to these days – and ohhh boy, is he a very busy man!


His reach and interests are far beyond saving the world with toilets, but to help eradicate poverty. So, we are doubly grateful for this interesting and inspiring interview. Thank you, Jack.

Let’s get started with some toilet-related questions:

Could you talk about the symbiotic relationship between toilets and men?

Eat, drink, poo, and pee – Natural as can be.

In 2013, the UN General Assembly declared November 19 as the World Toilet Day. Last Saturday it was celebrated in 193 countries. Have you ever imagined such a coverage when you started your quest for it?

No. I just wanted to do something to break the taboo on sanitation, toilet and shit because what we don’t discuss, we can’t improve.

Your work and efforts resulted in an award for Goal 6 of Clean Water you received in July 2016 from NOVUS while visiting the United Nations General Assembly in New York. What were your impressions?

We do not do our work to win awards but awards can help us do our work especially by bringing legitimacy to new communities of partners and supporters.

Watch Jack’s acceptance speech at the NOVUS Award Ceremony:

In 2014, you founded the World Toilet College (WTC) in India. How is this project coming along?

We started with the first World Toilet College in Rishikesh. Now starting the next two in Bangalore and Pune. Will also continue to grow it in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere.

Indian Toilet

Find out more about Kohler’s involvement with the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

How many students have graduated? How long is the program?

These are short courses. Not significant yet but the numbers are growing.

Any plans to bring this idea to other parts of the world?

WTC can go everywhere. Just let us know where there are local entities to absorb it and we can talk.

How do you change the mind-set from investments in – for example – mobile phones, to improved sanitation?

We’ve a unique blend of humor and serious facts. We call a spade a spade. We made toilets sexy and politicians started to use it as a vote-winner after a while. Recently Premier Minister Modi [in India] won a landslide victory promising everyone a toilet. He’s building 110 million toilets now.

In August 2016, you attended Singularity University (SU) in Silicon Valley, USA. Singularity University is a global community who empowers leaders to address huge humanitarian challenges through technology. What was your initial project idea to help more than one billion people?

I went to SU to discover how technology can help facilitate the efficiency of the Base of Pyramid (BOP) marketplace. I discovered plenty of them. Now I need to mobilise resources to install them into BOP HUB. Not easy task as these require very deep investments. Still work in progress. The good thing is now I’m connected with the Singularity University fraternity and extended family. They’ve also asked me to come back to teach next year. So that’s good too.

What is the actual project that you are working on? And with whom? What is the progress since August? Why is it important to have “doctors in the bathrooms”? How can the individual costs (currently USD 6,100) for such technology be brought down?

My class project was a Toilet that can diagnose colon cancer. Our team has since formed a company in USA and research in on-going. See more details in the Singapore Straits Time – here.

Kohler is also working on bringing more technology into the bathroom and on increasing the user experience in the bathroom. We will certainly be watching this space and updating it with more news.

World Toilet Organisation

Let’s shift gears a little bit. Your focus is much wider than toilets. You are the founder of the BOP Foundation which started in 2011, to design businesses to end poverty. What are some milestones that you achieved since the beginning?

This one is even more difficult than toilets because it encompasses all development sectors from water to sanitation to education, housing, health, energy, livelihood, nutrition, finance, logistics, home appliances, entertainment etc. I did three BOP World Conventions to test the market and now constructing a 65,000 sq ft BOP Design Center in Singapore to become the de facto World Trade Center for the Poor in Singapore. This USD 10 million building will complete in July 2017 and it’ll be opened 24/7/365 to facilitate all time-zones and geographies to coordinate collaboration across the globe to design business solutions to end poverty completely.


How is the social development sector fragmented?

The social development sector is fragmented and inefficient because it was designed as an unsustainable charity model that will stop once the money stops feeding it. Donors funding also divide stakeholders, making them compete for money instead of collaborating. In the end, NGOs end up serving the donors instead of the poor.

And why is it necessary to facilitate and coordinate collaboration?
3+3+3= 9
We need the multiplier of synergies and not the zero sum game.

The third BOP Convention took place in Singapore in September 2016. What where the highlights of the three-day conference? At the convention you spoke about “how to end poverty exponentially.” Could you elaborate on this?

Our former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong came to open the event. He told me: “BOP is serious business. You’ve got to try to make it profitable for the businesses and they’ll invest.” He’s been the genesis of me to startup Restroom Association and World Toilet Organisation and now I’ll also work hard to make BOP HUB a success to alleviating global poverty.
Very big task, but very fulfilling spiritually.

World Toilet Organisation - BOP Hub

In 2017, you will open the BOP Design Center in Singapore. You call it an “accelerator center” not an “innovation center”. What is the main purpose?

All solutions for ending poverty already exist. What’s needed is to accelerate them in a scalable and integrated system so that everyone inside this ecosystem will enjoy faster, better, cheaper and easier speed than working in silos. This way we can change the global modus operandi of everyone from silos to ecosystems.

We started a Fortified Rice company called 45Rice which just got funded USD 1 million. We’re next starting a water filter company in India. And a Procurement company soon too. We welcome everyone to come and be tenants at BOP Design Center. It’ll be the most powerful hub with its pure focus on using business to end poverty. It’ll also be profitable so that it’ll be self-sustainable and grow to other locations on the globe.

What are the challenges and opportunities that you faced in relation to this project?

The challenge is to get everyone to trust one another. Currently they don’t. So as an honest broker I think I can design the incentives for everyone to want to work together because you not competitive anymore if we have an ecosystem and you are still working alone.

In May, you attended the Social Enterprise Boat Camp organized by ARCA. What take-aways did you have from this 4 day trip from Italy to Spain?

The Boat Camp was a great experience. But I think the important thing is how to follow-up after the meeting. There were some great ideas to set up collaboration between participants to build an ecosystem but I did not hear any follow up action yet.

If you have any free time, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m addicted to creating new crazy ideas, design and irreverent things naughty boys love to do.
I’ve a few hobbies now like disrupting the current educational model from rote learning to a School of Gumption.
We just started a 100 Voices group to get all parents, teachers, students, employers, entrepreneurs, and the Ministry of Education to dialogue on the future needs and create demand driven education that is fun. We’ll be doing Forum Theater early next year for this movement. And a book is now on the way. I don’t want to grow up. Adults are deteriorated children. It’s better to be a child-like person no matter how old you are. After all, I’m only 59.

How do you know how to create bronze sculptures?
Making sculptures are easy. Just draw it and send the drawings to the workshop and they’ll make it. I’ve made movies before and hope to make a Bollywood one. Written the story but haven’t found the funding and producer yet.

What do you cry about in the shower?
Life is beautiful and full every day. No need to cry. I’ve a wonderful family and my beautiful wife loves and forgives me for who I am. I just want to live out the remaining 7,400 days till 80 and die happy knowing I tried my best to make it useful.

Jack Sim - World Toilet Organisation

Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organisation

Again, Jack, thank you so much for sharing all this information with us. We could certainly continue this conversation for a long time – there are so many more questions to ask. We hope to check in with you again next year.

Kohler sustainability centre-stage at international event

Kohler sustainability centre-stage at international event

As populations expand and the climate changes, demands on global water supplies are being put to the test. In response globally, Kohler is one company leading the charge to develop technologies that will help preserve this precious resource.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President and founder of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton, recognised companies making a difference in the global water scarcity issue – and Kohler was on the list.

The elegant Kumin kitchen mixer

The elegant Kumin kitchen mixer

Kohler CIO and VP of Sustainability Davor Grgic (pictured fourth from the left) stood alongside partner World Vision, in recognition of their commitment to provide one new person with clean water every 10 seconds by 2020.

Global leaders, including Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Jack Ma convene at this CGI Annual Meeting to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. In addition, Kohler participated in a panel discussion on ‘water scarcity’ which addresses world water supply and access issues.

Refer to earlier posts in relation to the Bill Gates Reinvent the Toilet blogs for Kohler involvement in this field.